That original prototype seemed to be aimed squarely at the high end of the production folder market--a competitor with the DPx folder. What we get in 2013 is not a high end folder, but something designed to compete with the low to mid price folders. This is a crowded, crowded market segment, but there are a few things that let the ESEE folder, the Zancudo, stand out, on paper at least.
The steel is AUS-8, perhaps the very definition of average steel. The knife itself has that "golden ratio" of folder specs 7, 4, and 3: 7 inches open, 4 closed, and 3 inches of blade length. I have always liked that size of knife, whether it is on the Spyderco Caly 3 (which has very similar measurements and proportions) or on this new folder. Not too big, not too small--just about right. The lock is a steel framelock, something that has shown up more frequently on cheaper knives, but is still a good lock. The handle shape seems nice and unlikely to cause problems. But the thing that puts the Zancudo over the top, at least for me, is the blade shape.
The ESEE fixed blade knives all have this simple, utilitarian drop point. No crazy grinds, no exotic angles or recurves, just plain simple cutting shapes. The Zancudo has the same shape. It is almost a perfect classic, Loveless drop point where the tip of the knife is about 1/4 the way down on the width of the blade from the spine. This results in an excellent belly and a very aesthetically pleasing blade shape.
I hope to get one in for review, as this seems like a legit contender in the low to mid price EDC folder market, so I will reserve judgment until then, but based on specs and pictures, it looks like a no-nonsense contender. As always, you can purchase this blade through Blade HQ and benefit the site: